Brilliant Piano Ping-Pong

Monday 5 February 2018

The immensely likeable Jussen Brothers appear with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields at the Alte Oper

Brilliant Piano Ping-Pong

Lucas & Arthur Jussen – the commercial link is true and false at the same time. Although the two young pianists from Holland, 22 and 25 years old, are on the one hand partners in the business of duo-pianism, they are also brothers, born in Hilversum and trained together, not least at the invitation of Maria João Pires in Portugal and Brazil.

Now they made their appearance as the Jussen Brothers & Co. Limited Partnership, so to speak, in the Pro Arte series at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, where the musical Limited Partner was the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The Jussens are two very boyish, lighthearted, slightly awkward soloists who immediately had the audience on their side. In the Great Hall they presented Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos in E flat major, K. 365, which they understood not only as brilliant piano ping-pong but also, from both sides, as an intense musical happening that became a whole in the space in between the pianos.

The younger of the two brothers, Arthur, has what it takes for a Mozart casting session, with his more delicate build and his bright, mercurial nature. The older brother, Lucas, the more thoughtful of the two, presented a stronger tone, taking on the role of the big brother, on the other hand. A good visual division of labor, which also proved to be extremely successful during several four-hand encores as a solid foundation and framework with simultaneously radiant descant.

The Mozart Concerto, which is rarely heard because of the double outlay for two pianists, maintained a strong internal harmonic balance despite its melodic focus. The last movement, with its playful Papageno high spirits, was downright folksy. The Academy tutti were rather routine here and seemed to combine turbulence with directness and propulsiveness.

A tendency that proved to be excessive briskness on a purely virtuosic carousel already during the opening work, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. The Jussen brothers shaped Bach’s C minor Double Concerto, BWV 1060, to a solid but not hard texture with marvelous tension in the entrances. The middle movements of Mozart’s C major Symphony, the “Linz,” were worked out to perfection under concertmaster Tomo Keller, who led the ensemble unobtrusively from the first desk of the Academy. Otherwise, much seemed to be set entirely in capital letters. Dependable and familiar.

From: Frankfurter Rundschau, 05.02.2018
Author: Bernhard Uske

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